By Sarah Edgcumbe
CW: genocide, murder, rape, torture
Sudan is burning. Literally.
Government offices have been set on fire. Areas in Darfur have been burning for quite some time, though Western media no longer reports on it. The killings in Darfur that proved to be the initial acts of a campaign of genocide took place in 2003. Since then 480,000 have been killed by President Bashir’s forces, which include his ‘Janjaweed’ militia, with a further 2.8 million being displaced.
By Stu Lucy
After having his position as goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation revoked last month, more bad news plagued Robert Mugabe this week as he was finally ousted from his longstanding position as President of Zimbabwe. After more than 35 years in office and at the grand old age of 93, the now former head of state stepped down, eliciting much jubilation and celebration across the country. It wasn’t easy, mind….Continue Reading
by Zoe Harding
Let’s leave the sordid world of Earth behind for a bit, and explore the potential of a concept that’s kind of easy to dismiss out of hand.
In his venerable Culture series, Iain M Banks describes a future society based around Minds, unimaginably super-intelligent AIs that control vast ships and space-going habitats, on which a massive collection of alternately hedonistic and depressed lesser-biological beings (assumed to be human, although it’s never made explicit) live pampered and comfortable lives. The Culture is semi-utopian, although, if it resembles any society, it resembles the US in its relations with other civilisations, The books frequently focus on both the skulduggery necessary to keep the civilisation running and the injustice of being born outside it. Nonetheless, it is a portrait of a society in which humans (probably) are protected, cared for and treated equally through advanced technology.
Because utopias aren’t easy or fun to write, few societies like the Culture have appeared in fiction before or since. There is one notable version, however, in the form of an oddly idealistic leftie meme: Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism.Continue Reading
by Faizal Nor Izham
One novel I’ve always been meaning to finish is the the award-winning sci-fi classic Neuromancer by William Gibson. Since the initial publication of the counter-cultural novel in – of all years – 1984, it went on to inspire the ‘cyberpunk’ movement in the science fiction genre, as well as the ‘high-tech, low life’ type neo-noir aesthetic that often goes with it. Neuromancer has also gone on to inspire popular films such as Ghost in the Shell and The Matrix.
But what makes the novel so prominent in popular culture is that fact that it was the first to coin the term ‘cyberspace’, i.e. a ‘consensual hallucination‘ replicated artificially by millions of interconnected computer users – which in turn makes up the Internet as we know it today. The story revolves around a washed-up computer hacker hired by a mysterious employer to pull off the ultimate hack (not dissimilar from Keanu Reeves’ original role in The Matrix). This in itself can be seen as an allegory for counter-cultural movements literally taking place within this ‘Matrix’ – a term first coined by the novel way before the movie of the same name was released – a world within the world, similar to the setting of the Tron films.
by Colin Hynson
Derek Wall Economics After Capitalism: A Guide to the Ruins and a Road to the Future.
Pluto Press, 2015. £13.00
In the last months of 2011 countries across the world witnessed an explosion of protest under the banner of ‘Occupy’. Inspired by uprisings of the Arab Spring and the Indignant movement in Spain and angered by the effects of the financial crisis of 2008–2009, large groups of anti-capitalist and anti-corporatist demonstrators took over public spaces and set up camp. The Occupy protests in New York and in London were the ones that occupied most public attention although there were Occupy protests in many cities across the world, including on Norwich’s Hay Hill.
The Occupy protestors were subject to all of the usual attacks and criticisms from conservative commentators and pundits and there was one thing that they all agreed on. It was easy to see what the protestors were against but much more difficult to find out exactly what they were for. There was no list of demands, no manifesto and no programme of action. Yet for many supporters of the Occupy movement this wasn’t a weakness but a sign of strength. It allowed diverse groups from environmentalists to socialists and anarchists to come together and draw attention to a problem that needed fixing, i.e. capitalism, whilst agreeing that there were many ways that could solve that problem.Continue Reading